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FEATURE ARTICLE 4: GIRL GUIDES – LEADING THE WAY FOR AUSTRALIAN GIRLS AND YOUNG WOMEN
Since Guiding’s first advocates confronted Lord Baden-Powell at Crystal Palace in 1909 demanding to join the Scouting movement, millions of girls and young women throughout the world have enjoyed exciting and fun filled programs delivered in a safe, supportive ‘girls only’ space that has inspired them to develop their individual leadership and life skills and provided them with a platform to have their voices heard to make the world a better place.
The WAGGGS (World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts) Global Action Theme (GAT) has girls worldwide saying “together we can change our world”. As we celebrate the Centenary of Guiding worldwide we recognise that Guiding has changed the lives of millions of girls and young women and their communities for 100 years.
Among the many prominent women who have made the Guide Promise is Quentin Bryce, Australia’s first female Governor-General. ‘I was a Brownie and what I loved most about those times were the special games we played and the little rituals we took part in. Being a Guide means learning to care for others, doing the best they can and, of course, having fun in the bush’, she says.
In 2010, this global force of 10 million girls and women in 145 countries is still doing its best, from tackling issues of poverty and literacy in developing nations to helping out at the local animal shelter and handing out water to our Diggers at Anzac Day. In Australia, over one million Australians have been or are Girl Guides.
HISTORY OF GUIDING - CELEBRATING OUR PAST
Guiding sprang from the Scouting movement, so our history began early in the 1900s with Lord Baden-Powell - B-P as he became known - developing the concept of Scouting during his days as a British soldier in India and Africa. He successfully applied these methods to boys at an experimental camp on Brownsea Island in England in 1907.
1909 Girls speak out
The first Scout rally at Crystal Palace in London was the starting point for Guiding. A group of girls stood behind the Boy Scouts at the rally. The girls wore the long skirts required at the time but they also wore khaki shirts, scout hats and scarves and leather belts. They demanded the right to be recognised as girl scouts and to be allowed to follow the same program as the boys - despite prevailing attitudes to girls. ‘If a girl is not allowed to run, or even hurry, to swim, ride a bike, or raise her arms above her head, how can she become a Scout?’, said B-P in The Scout Gazette.
Her Excellency, Ms. Quentin Bryce, Governor-General of Australia and Patron of Girl Guides Australia with young Guiding women.
But by the end of the year he had published a pamphlet The Aim of Scouting for Boys, with a suggestion for a similar scheme of character training for girls ‘… with details more suited to the sex.’ His sister Agnes agreed to help run a girls’ movement, and together they wrote A Scheme for Girls and How girls can help to build up the empire was published - the first Guide handbook.
In India, B-P met up with a group of soldiers called guides whom he much admired. They played a reconnaissance role and were physically fit, enterprising, self-disciplined and cheerful, qualities still emphasised by the Guide program today. B-P also named the girls Guides for the fit, courageous mountaineering guides of Switzerland. ‘The term “Guides” was intended to give an idea of romance and adventure.’ B-P
1910 Girl Guides begins
In May of that year girls were invited to register as Girl Guides and the Girl Guides Association officially began operating in the UK, with Agnes Baden-Powell acting as President. Guiding swept across the world. In Australia the movement began under various names in different States, for example the Australian League of Girl Aids in New South Wales, the Peace Scouts in Tasmania and the Red Cross Girl Aids in Victoria. Guiding developed independently in each State over the next few years until its official start in 1911. By 1945 Guiding was active in every state and territory around Australia.
1912 Appearance of Olave
B-P married Olave St Clair Soames, who joined him in leading Scouting and Guiding. Lord and Lady B-P shared a birthday, 22 February, and this is celebrated annually as World Thinking Day. Girl Guides and Girl Scouts worldwide reflect on, and raise funds for, fellow members less fortunate than themselves.
Other key events in a century of Guiding include:
‘The Guide Movement came simply because it was needed by the children. They practically invented it because they took hold of it and brought it to where it is.’ Lady B-P
GUIDING IN AUSTRALIA TODAY - LIVING THE PRESENT
Today’s Guiding skills may have moved on but the principles endure and are as relevant as ever according to Lynne Price, Girl Guides Australia’s Chief Commissioner, ‘Guiding activities are driven by the girls so they reflect the times but they’re underpinned by lasting values that empower young women and foster leadership and a strong sense of service.’ The girl is the central focus of the Program.
The Australian Guide Program (AGP) encourages the girl to develop herself in the areas of physical development, practical skills, and in relationships with people.
The seven fundamental areas of Guiding form the basis of the Program upon which Unit meetings are developed and implemented.
The philosophy of the AGP is based on the importance of the process used in working towards an outcome, rather than on the activity itself. The AGP process involves five steps: discovering needs and options, deciding goals, planning activities, doing activities, evaluating. When Guides plan their own Unit meetings, they gain confidence in choosing activities to suit their needs and learn the important skill of self-determination.
A program, the Olave Program, specifically designed for 18 to 30 year olds, provides opportunities for participants to challenge themselves at a personal level through a flexible network, with a focus on service. The Olave Program enables young women to further develop as confident, self-respecting responsible global community members.
Girl Guides Australia welcomes youth members from the age of five years up to eighteen years, of whom around 77% are aged between five and twelve. Adult members are women from the age of eighteen years. As of the 2008 Guide Census, Girl Guides Australia had 1790 Guide Units with 28,362 members across Australia.
Girl Guides Australia is an inclusive organisation, with the Program also catering for girls and Leaders with special needs (through regular or special needs Units) and for Lone Guides - those whose distance from Guide Units, state of health or family circumstances mean that they cannot attend regular Guide meetings. Instead they receive resource material by Internet or mail and join with other Guides at camps and award ceremonies.
A dedicated group of female adult volunteers (called Leaders) are trained to develop Guides in all facets of the AGP. The Leader is the facilitator and the AGP provides a framework to allow for individual interpretation, ensuring that a range of learning styles and intelligences are catered for. Support is provided to all volunteers with each Leader receiving a mentor (or Guiding Partner) and training from other appropriately qualified volunteers with a wealth of experience.
The Australian Adult Leadership program provides Leaders and other members with leadership skills and opportunities for further development. Members have the option of working towards nationally accredited workplace qualifications in leadership and frontline management.
'Recent research from the United Kingdom confirms what we have always suspected - that girls involved with Guiding stand out among their peers in their commitment to volunteering, community action and their responsibilities as world citizens' (End note 1).
Guides having fun in the outdoors.
"Guides Say" Research (End note 2)
In 2007, Girl Guides Australia conducted a national survey of Guides aged between 5 and 17 years old, to identify the issues affecting girls and young women at a global, national and local level. The spectrum of age, geographical location, cultural background and personal circumstances, provided a rich understanding of both the similarities and differences of young girls across all walks of life in Australia, giving the survey's findings depth and power. A total of 4,500 girls participated from across all Australian States.
The majority of Guides who responded were from metropolitan areas (53%), with 24% in regional areas and 23% in rural areas. At a global level, all areas were most concerned with the environment, global warming and poverty while at a local level the environment and addictions were ranked highest. Water was also ranked in the top four for regional and rural areas.
The most variety in responses occurred at a local level, where Guides raised issues specific to their area.
Young Women's Forum 2009 "Taking the Lead through Advocacy"
Fifty Australian Guides and two New Zealand Guides aged 14-30 years participated at this exciting new event held in January 2009 in Sydney, hosted by Girl Guides Australia to develop girls and young women’s advocacy skills. The training centred on the 2009 WAGGGS messages which have been aligned to the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals (MDG):
A highlight was the panel of speakers from Oxfam, World Vision, Clean up Australia, UNIFEM, UNICEF, Medecins sans Frontieres, Mrs Judith Poole, Headmistress of Abbotsleigh School, and Dr Gabrielle Casper, Past President of Medical Women’s International Association who came and shared their expertise on the Millennium Development Goals and guest speaker Clary Castrission, the inspirational founder of 40K Home Foundation with its focus on Australian youth eradicating poverty by partnering education projects in the developing world.
Copenhagen Climate Change Summit.
International advocacy and Guiding
Girl Guides Australia is dedicated to advocating on the issues identified as important to our members and to providing the skills and the opportunities for them to speak out on these issues - whether they are matters of concern at a global level, in their communities or something that affects them in Guiding.
Four young Australian women represented the country and Guiding at the Copenhagen Climate Change Summit (COP 15) in Denmark in December 2009. Allison Hooper, 24 years, Petina Blackwell, 25 years, and Nellie Mair, 25 years, joined 19 young women from around the world at COP15 to form the WAGGGS youth delegation in support of environmental protection. Linden Edgell, an Australian who is Deputy Chair of WAGGGS, led the delegation.
Hailing from the Northern Territory, Queensland, Victoria and Tasmania, the young women - who were selected by Girl Guides Australia for their passion for the environment as well as their leadership skills and service to the community - spoke on behalf of Guiding on the importance of preventing climate change and global warming. They advocated that ‘girls should be at the centre of efforts to combat climate change’.
In October 2009 young volunteer leader, Elizabeth Drysdale, participated in the Asia Pacific Beijing +15 forum in Manila, Philippines, at which women’s Non-government organisation representatives from the Asia Pacific discussed the progress that has been made towards achieving the Beijing Declaration and platform for action, in preparation for the UN Commission on the Status for Women Conference to be held in New York in March 2010. In March 2010, another young volunteer Susanna Matters, will attend the New York conference as part of the WAGGGS delegation.
Young volunteer Leaders, Amy Spark and Emma Gillett, have been selected to represent Australia at the inaugural Young Women’s World Forum in October 2010. At this forum they will share experiences and develop a declaration outlining what WAGGGS and its members, national governments and other parts of civil society should be doing to achieve the Millennium Development Goals by 2015. Delegates will also make a commitment to undertake a project in their own country.
Images from the centenary project.
Through community partnerships, Guides are able to support their local communities in a positive and meaningful way. Some of Girl Guides Australia’s current national partners are as follows.
Clean Up Australia
In 2009, 218 registered Guide Clean Up sites supported Clean Up Australia Day in March across Australia and undertook a range of local projects to clean up their local environment.
Australian Koala Foundation
Girl Guides Australia and the Australian Koala Foundation launched Save the Koala temporary tattoos for sale at $2 a tattoo to raise funds in 2009 for the Foundation. Girl Guides Australia is a Gold Sponsor of the Australian Koala Foundation.
In 2008, 179 Guide Units across Australia joined with Scouts Australia, Woolworths Limited and the Department of Immigration and Citizenship to mark Harmony Day on 21 March by holding barbecues, raffles and displays at Woolworths stores in every State to increase public understanding of the diverse community in which we live.
National Tree Day
On 2 August 2009 Girl Guides participated in Planet Ark’s National Tree Planting Day - planting native shrubs and trees in their local communities across Australia to protect the environment.
In 2008 Girl Guides Australia collected 36,529 kg of corks for recycling. This was a lower volume than in previous years, possibly reflecting the trend of cork alternatives for wine bottle closures. The income from cork recycling is used by State Guide organisations to help fund delivery of the Guide program.
Particular activities in the Centenary Year
The theme for the Centenary of Guiding world wide - “Girls worldwide say…100 years of changing lives” - communicates Guiding as a movement that has remained relevant and viable from the Victorian era to the one we enjoy today. Girl Guides Australia also recognises that to continue to be a growing movement, we must review our practices and operations regularly.
The Australian Girl Guides centenary commenced in September 2009 and will conclude in February 2011. Our centenary theme is celebrating our past, living the present and powering into the future.
Girls Celebrate Centenary Launch
The Girl Guides Australia Centenary was launched in Brisbane in September 2009 at Girls Celebrate - a festival of fun and activities to celebrate the 1910 Crystal Palace Rally and promote advocacy - with nearly 3,000 Guides attending.
At Girls Celebrate:
A special Centenary badge, the Centenary Challenge, provides Guides across Australia with the opportunity to develop their skills in a variety of areas from self awareness to global responsibility through a series of personal challenges. A Gold Centenary Challenge is available for those wanting an extra challenge.
International Service Challenge
Members will undertake a new International service project in collaboration with UNICEF - Girls unite to read and write.
New Partnerships – UNICEF.
Australian Service Challenge
Members will participate in a series of activities to increase their understanding of people with disabilities and provide service to disability organisations.
Girl Guides Centenary Coin
By June 2010 the Royal Australia Mint will produce a circulating $1 coin to commemorate Guiding and its Centenary.
Australia Post will issue three stamps, one domestic and two international, in September 2010 to commemorate the Centenary of Guiding.
ACE - Australian Centenary Event
In January 2010, 2500 Guides aged 10-17 and volunteer Leaders will participate in an International Centenary Camp at Geelong, Victoria.
Also in January 2010, 100 18-30 year old members will participate in a learning and development program focusing on event management, public relations and media skills. At the conclusion of the workshop they will have identified an issue they care about and developed a plan of action to advocate on this issue to the broader community. They will also learn about decision making and governance so that they can take up active roles in committees and governance bodies across Girl Guides Australia.
World Thinking Day
On 22 February 2010, members will participate in a program of activities based on the WAGGGS theme ‘together we can end extreme poverty and hunger’.
In February 2010 Girl Guides Australia will be launching a modern, practical, vibrant and attractive uniform range for girls and adults. The new uniform has been designed based on the feedback from our 2007 Guides say, our Uniform project that all youth members, parents of youth members and adults were invited to participate in.
Leadership for Life
The Governor General, her Excellency Quentin Bryce, will launch an inspirational coffee table book on 28 February 2010. The book tells the stories of 100 women from across Australia from all walks of life and professions who have contributed to Guiding or who attribute their personal success in life in some small way to Guiding.
International Women’s Day
On 8 March 2010 Guides will participate in UNIFEM breakfasts across Australia.
Clean Up Australia Day
Every Unit will be encouraged to participate in the Clean Up Australia program.
Centenary Celebration Day
Guide Units across Australia will have their own special party event on the 100th day of the year using the WAGGGS theme ‘plant’ and the WAGGGS activity pack when they will connect with the communities in which they live.
Be the change
In April 2010, 25 young Guides aged 14 to 30 will help the United Nations in their efforts to eliminate poverty by 2015 by participating in an AusAID funded National MDG and advocacy workshop. This will be followed by a series of state based workshops which will be organised by these young women in August 2010. Around 30 people will attend each state based workshop to increase awareness of the MDGs within Guiding and across the broader community. State workshop participants will then take action on one or more of the MDGs and raise awareness of the MDGs in their local community.
Guides across Australia will participate in Anzac vigils, marches, services and breakfasts on 25 April 2010.
All Units will participate in a program of activities based on the Arts at a regional or State level.
Centenary Guide Biscuits
Guide biscuits with special centenary packaging will be sold in June 2010 in Guide Biscuit month.
Chain of Campfires
Guides will participate in a Chain of Campfires across the nation and will be provided with a Campfire program, including two songs composed for the Centenary.
World Environment Day
Guides will participate in a series of activities to work out their Global Footprint, together with ideas for reducing carbon emissions and minimising their impact on the environment.
National Tree Planting Day
This program will provide Guide Units with trees and shrubs to plant in temperate areas across Australia.
Australian Guides Say
Strengthening Girl Guides Australia’s position as the leader of insight in the Australian female market, a new Guides Say survey in August 2010 will determine key issues impacting Australian females in the 7-30 year old age group.
UK Centenary Camp
Girl Guiding UK will be celebrating 100 years of Guiding with Girl Guides and Girl Scouts from across the world; to be held at Harewood House, Leeds.
Units will undertake a program of activities for Guides of all ages that encourages positive self-esteem and a healthy lifestyle.
Flying the Flag
Every member across Australia will renew their Promise at 10am 10/10/10 and the World Flag will be flown at every possible location across Australia. A program of activities based on the Promise & Law will be held in conjunction with the Promise Renewal.
WAGGGS Young Women’s World Forum
This forum being hosted by Girl Guiding UK in London, England, will focus on the UN Millennium Development Goals.
Tropical Tree Planting Day
Guide Units in tropical areas across Australia will plant trees and shrubs in their local area.
Looking forward - Powering into the future
Giving girls new experiences, new challenges and new ways to grow has been the organisation’s focus for 100 years and its goal is to continue to transform girls’ lives for the next 100 years.
The WAGGGS Centenary celebrations will continue until 2012 when Girl Scouts USA celebrates its centenary of Guiding. In 2011 and 2012 Australian Guides will continue to participate in global centenary events, including World Thinking Day in 2011 (‘empowering girls will change our world’) and in 2012 (‘we can save our planet’).
Girl Guides Australia will continue to build the advocacy skills of our girls and young women to give girls a local, national and international voice so that they are heard by governments and the community on the issues that are important to them and in a way that can influence change.
At a vital time in girl’s personal and social development, as evidenced by the recent neuroscience research on how girls learn(End note 3), we will continue to provide a safe, inclusive ‘girls only’ space where girls, by being themselves, can focus on achieving their potential and thrive.
We will continue to promote diversity and equality as Guiding helps develop girls and young women to their best, at their level in their way.
We will remain relevant to today’s girls. Empowering girls and young women has always been our focus. Guides will be increasingly challenged by a program that extends beyond badges and will continue to get involved in anything from girl led community projects to volunteering in developing countries.
Our hope is that more and more girls from urban and rural communities, reflecting the rich cultural and ethnic diversity of our society and all socio-economic groups, can become active Guide members.
To achieve this we will attract more female volunteers of all ages who will personally grow and develop their leadership skills through working with girls and young women to build the leaders of tomorrow.
1. Active Citizenship: Girls Shout Out!. Political Outsider: we care, but will we vote? A research report by Girl Guiding UK.
2. Guides Say… Project. A research report by Girl Guides Australia 2008.
3. Girls will be Girls Raising Confident and Courageous Daughters by Joann Deak Ph.D., with Teresa Barker Hyperion New York 2002.
Girl Guiding/Girl Scouting: a challenging movement. World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts, 1997.
From a flicker to a flame by Margaret Coleman and Honor Darling. Girl Guides Association of Australia Inc, 1989.
Girl Guides Australia, <http://www.girlguides.org.au>
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